Advice for Parents addressing children and young peoples’ responses in relation to traumatic events

Advice for Parents addressing children and young peoples’ responses in relation to traumatic events


Advice from the Department of Education and Training Following Events on Friday 13th November in France.


Children and young people will have seen and heard about the terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris on Friday 13 November 2015.

The authorities in France and countries around the world will help to support the people who have been impacted by this event.

Children often worry and know more than we realise. Adults may assume that children are doing okay if they don’t talk or ask questions about what has happened. Sometimes they have questions they may not ask unless we provide the opportunity. ​​

It is wise for you to monitor your child’s exposure to television coverage, print media and social media. ​​Some children and young people will want to talk about the tragic events and try to make sense of what they have both seen and heard. Other children will avoid any discussion around the events and will be reassured by routine and normality. ​​

Remember the importance of routine, sleep, exercise and healthy eating.

There is a range of things you can do to assist your child during events such as this, including:

  • Acknowledge that the event was distressing
  • Reassure children that they are safe
  • Look for signs of distress (e.g. some children/young people might be scared)
  • Normalise responses – typical response will range from anger to general upset or sadness
  • Maintain a normal routine – keeping the structure at home or at school in place
  • Allow children to express feelings as they arise
  • Telling stories about how people manage during difficult times can be helpful.
  • Separate fact from fiction e.g. children may express fears about unrelated events.
  • Plan relaxing activities before bed – talk your child through a gentle relaxation, this might include using soothing music and talking them through relaxing tension in their body or simply reading something to them that induces relaxation (i.e. a favourite book).
  • Speak in hopeful terms – children and young people will often take their cues from their parents’ reactions; if you are honest, calm, compassionate and open they will be much more able to trust that they will be okay.
  • Always remember the value of doing something with children that they like to do such as playing, exercising, being outdoors – have a time during your day to share time with your child.

If you have any concerns about your child’s wellbeing, please contact your class teacher or the school on 9547 1146